Read of the Week: Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Eleanor & Park“Bono met his wife in high school,” Park says.
“So did Jerry Lee Lewis,” Eleanor answers.
“I’m not kidding,” he says.
“You should be,” she says, “we’re sixteen.”
“What about Romeo and Juliet?”
“Shallow, confused, then dead.”
”I love you,” Park says.
“Wherefore art thou,” Eleanor answers.
“I’m not kidding,” he says.
“You should be.”

Set over the course of one school year in 1986, ELEANOR AND PARK is the story of two star-crossed misfits – smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try. When Eleanor meets Park, you’ll remember your own first love – and just how hard it pulled you under.

Before I fell in love with Eleanor & Park, I fell in love with its cover. There’s just something about its simplicity that says just enough for you to be interested but still left curious. I feel like despite its mundane qualities, the personality of the novel still manages to shine through the jacket.

As suggested, Eleanor & Park is a beautiful tale about complicated lives and first loves, and while this might sound just like any other contemporary work, it isn’t. Eleanor & Park is raw and emotional. Oh, and it takes us back to the glorious year of 1986, filled with some fun old school slang and lots of  nostalgic mixtapes.

Besides leaving you emotionally unstable, Eleanor & Park reminds readers of their first loves and the measures one would take in order to hold onto the one person they never thought they’d lose. It’s like being sixteen and in love all over again, and it doesn’t cut short of all the crazy harrowing thoughts  running through an unsure person’s head at the time.  It’s bittersweet and realistic, but there’s plenty of snark and sass to make up for all the serious.

What I loved about this book so much was the music. It may be sad and typical, but Rowell used fantastic music to keep the momentum going and fit the situation between Eleanor and Park perfectly. The importance of it all was seamless, too, as it served to foreshadow and convey other literary devices. And, yes, I will admit that I’ve been singing Love Will Tear Us Apart and Bad nonstop for the past six days. Okay, and maybe a few Beatles songs, too. And The Smiths. Shamelessly, of course.

Just like the plot, Rainbow’s characters are beautifully true. No one in this book is impeccable or otherworldly attractive. These are

real teenagers with real flaws and real lives. Nothing here was sugarcoated or made out to be something it wasn’t. it added to the complexity of the novel, and if anything else, made it even more perfect than it could have ever possibly been any other way. Eleanor and Park were completely relatable on so many levels that you can find yourself in their shoes time and time again, no matter how difficult or off the situation may be.


The time span Rowell picks is an interesting one, rounding out to the end of 1986 and the beginning of 1987. The timing went perfectly with the feel of Eleanor & Park and made it more than just any other contemporary love story and set it aside from a book with the same premise that could take place in our day and age.  The setting added to the individuality and suited just fine.

Rainbow left Eleanor & Park‘s ending open to interpretation, and much to my—and everyone who’s already read it—dismay, she’s been careful to not release any other information that might hint at the future of Eleanor and Park. This could be considered good news depending how you look at it, though, because the author herself has stated multiple times that she is absolutely dying to write a sequel, one that would actually take place when Eleanor and Park are thirty two years-old. She hasn’t mentioned the circumstances beyond that, or if she has any plans to in the very near future, but she seems dead set on it to me, and truth be told, I think I could go a decade waiting for one without a single complaint because either way, Eleanor & Park was satisfying for me, and even the idea of a sequel is enough to keep the excitement in me going for quite a while.

With or without a continuation, Eleanor & Park is an unforgettable novel that won’t easily leave your mind, and with good reason.

Rating: 10/10




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